Saturday, May 20, 2023

Art is a thing...

Ramblings Post #414
Art is a thing. I know when we imagined AI's arrival, we imagined that it would take away all the drudgery and accounting jobs, not the chasing of art. I've seen too many people giddy with the anticipation of "creation," if creation is now putting five sentences into a AI engine and hitting refresh until it spits out something they like. Or telling the AI to write a good book about subject X and to put this part and that part in it and feeling that they'd done something. It's something, no doubt...but it's not really Art. If you know what I mean.  

by Alisha Petrova - Orange mood

This might just be AI for all I know. I hope Alisha is still about that brush and strokes but this is nice, clean and calming. There is something about that skin tone in that color that is just striking though. 

by Don Lawrence

This is just feels fun. I may have to inquire about a print for this one, it's vibrant and alive and I don't know what to say. I like the hair, the color, her expression. I don't know if I have the appropriate space for it though. Like this is too much for my much subdued personal space. 

by Mike Machira

So simple, yet so nice. Colorful in her expression, in her posture, while muted in it's palette. Okay, I also have a thing for women with short hair too. To me, short or no hair on a woman is evidence of an inner self confidence, one that in a time when women use their "crown" to express themselves tells me that the person trusts their face, trusts who they are. Well, not Jada Pinkett-Smith, but all the rest of them.  

Barkeep, what wines do you have? I'd like something with a citrus, if you have it.

Monday, April 24, 2023

To that actuary, we salute you.

Ramblings Post #413
Don Lemon got fired from CNN today and it's almost a non-story. I kinda liked Don a while back, and yes, he has had his moments we all cheered that he was there, but you gotta be able to see where things around you are changing and adapt. I don't bear him any ill will and hope he lands on his feet, but man you gotta learn to check yourself from time to time, for the good of the long term. Now normally, Don might have been the focus. But sometimes you just gotta go with your gut. 

I think somewhere, in a small office at Fox News HQ, a small bespectacled man (or woman) of middle age did some very interesting math (actuarial science), emailed his boss and that boss emailed Rupert. At that Rupert called the lawyers and I'm guess five minutes after that they turned Tucker's badge off. Er, I mean, they told Tucker that he'd agreed with them to part ways.

While this is most certainty a tax write off for Fawx, as a cost of doing business, a good portion of these damages will probably be covered by insurance, the nature of which is referred to as media liability coverage. No doubt Fawx probably upped their coverage last year if it was an option, just in case. But settling with Dominion means that the impending suit with Smartmatic will probably have a similar outcome. It's kinda hard to argue when the judge starts with the premise that the defendant is guilty as hell. There may be a firm up for it, but I don't know who they might be. And as such there is a high probability that the settlement will be similar in size if not larger. Fawx has as cash on hand at this moment even after Dominion if need be, so no worries, and it too will be written off and handled by the insurer.  

But here is where the math comes in, and truth be told it's very likely that Capitalism is what did poor lil Tucker in. Let's guess that the total payout for both cases is around $1.8 billion. You may or may not be aware, but no insurer wants to pay out $18, much less $1.8 billion, although they're probably really only on the hook for 60-70% of it. But you've ever made a claim, you know what happens next: your rate goes up. So, with the Dominion payout and the the soon to be Smartmatic payout, either Fox's insurance rates just went through the roof, or any NEW policy they can find will no longer cover these circumstances - i.e., knowingly lying on the air. It's just too expensive. And although they admitted no wrong doing in the settlement, their current method of "news dissemination," which it didn't look like they planned to alter, was about to become more expensive.

So what does all that have to do with Tucker? Aside from the former producer's discrimination lawsuit? Well, it seems that on his show on Friday, Tucker stared out at the camera and denied that a Dominion settlement even existed.
Which brings us back to the at small bespectacled man (or woman) who was looking at future projections and realized what level of risk a continuation of current "news authentication" and "news opinion" was placing to Rupert's checkbook. The term "pattern" comes to mind, and patterns tend to increase judgments and therefore settlements that would come before them. The Dominion case, the Smartmatic case, the discrimination suit, the Shareholder suit I just found out about. My understanding is that Fawx literally ran the promo for Tucker's show right before the segment where they announced he that he and Fawx had decided to part ways. So, I'm thinking this decision was last minute.

I personally hope that he and his rhetoric are the first of many people that Fawx can no longer afford to keep supporting. To be clear, I doubt this ends the channel or anything else dramatic. I can already see the transition to podcasting or AM radio. But I do hope it returns some degree of civility to the majority of conservatives of this country and causes some degree of tempering of the most extreme conspiracy bound elements that seem to have been pushed the forefront as of late. I doubt that will happen, but one can dream.

Barkeep. Whiskey. The good kind. It's that kinda day. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

We Let Them Off The Hook

Ramblings Post #412
I need to get some focus. To find a center, calm the raging torrent of creativity trying to get out and find somewhere to start. And finish. At least a first draft. I've likened my production process for anything to that of freight train - slow at first, plodding but then picking up speed until once fully in motion I will put the rest of reality on hold to accomplish my goals. So, looking back, I'm thinking that might not be a good thing.

You let'em off the hook! 

In another reality, Dominion rejected the 788 million dollar settlement offer and went to trial. There there in a marathon session they went into detail about all 7,000 of their exhibits detailing what the court had already determined: That Fawx Nooz had lied. It took on Simpson trial proportions, with a nightly update in eighty three countries around the world. It was so damning even NewsMax pretended they hadn't lied as well and began covering it. That the network became a literal punchline. Then, the jury having tripled the damages to almost 5 billion, as part of the final ruling Fawx would have to make to the audience it hadn't even told it been in litigation an on-air admission. And so, in the form of an ongoing series of 1-minute spots to replace one commercial per hour - starring all the various hosts who'd pushed the election lie would tell there viewers that a)They'd been sued about their election coverage, b)that Fawx had lost, c) that the election hadn't been stolen and most importantly d) that they'd known that the election hadn't been stolen the whole time but told them that anyway. And that the judge would order these ads run on Fox, every hour in rotation, until the next election.

But Dominion took the money because...they're a business, not a national crusade and they needed the money. But to quote former Cardinals Head Coach Dennis Green, we let'em off the hook. And quite frankly it's more than a little sad.

Now, to be honest I hadn't expected a magical Matlock moment, a Legally Blonde realization or a My Cousin Vinny deduction at the last minute. It was always going to be more along the lines of an event Law & Order episode where at the end they look resigned to knowing that they'd given it the very best they could. In retrospect it was too hopeful to think this was about something larger than damages. The lawyers talked up the loss of reputation aspect a lot as we lead up to court day, but without a VERY public apology and/or a retraction of their characterization of Dominion's machines, it means that the national disinformation machine slips back into fifth and frames these damages as "minuscule" and "addressing a nuisance." The folks who believe Dominion was and still is compromised will still believe it - primarily because those people, some of whom control voting in local jurisdictions, only watch Fawx. With this little bump out of the way they will return to their bias affirming comfort propaganda with pockets just a touch lighter but not a wit wiser. The network is going to chalk this up as a victory, I can promise you that.

I can't really blame the lawyers here. They listen to their clients as to settlement. So it falls to Dominion. And I think their management was a bit short-sighted in their version how the future needs to play out. But then they have duty to their shareholders on down the line. In the end the people who choose the voting machines and who only watch Fawx are going to wake up next week and possibly not even know about the case. Dominion might have secured the bag, but at what cost. Maybe money alone wasn't the best fix if it doesn't address the long term perception, one which Fawx news can heavily influence?  

One hopes that the next defamation case, one by Smartmatic which should get a boost from this settlement, gets a little juicer. But I wouldn't count on it.     

Barkeep. A nice gin and tonic. For old times sake.

Saturday, April 1, 2023

No Bracket, so it's Meh...

Ramblings Post #411
I once opined that the least racist person in America is a football fan on Saturday Night in the south when their team is down by four with two minutes left. At that moment, if they think you can score a touchdown and get the W, they don't care what color you are. I stand by that statement.  

This year I could not spare the hours of research, player evaluation, game simulation and consideration of all of the other endless variables (height, weight, shoe size, major, beard or clean shaven) required to confidently construct a bracket that reflected my expectations for this years March Madness. Yeah, that sounds good. It's better than the truth, in that because I usually throw one together in five minutes based upon a) how impressive the team was in the mid-90s b) if I recognize the college c) if the mascot is cool and d) if my bracket needs some upset razzle-dazzle. And this year I just forgot. I remembered, but again because of my aforementioned well-honed and time-tested methodology I thought I could just do it later. I was wrong.

via the ESPN

Looking at the final four....wait, this is the Final Four? Like for the NCAA? Seriously? This looks like it would have popped out of a 2K version of March Madness, not actually happened. Theoretically, we all the love the Cinderella story, but damn. A couple FIVE seeds? A NINE seed? Was the selection committee on that Henny while setting up the brackets? We sure this isn't for baseball? Wait, if this is the final four, what the hell happened? 

I have to ask because this time around, because I didn't have any virtual skin in the game, I did not feverishly tune in. Or even really casually tune in. ... I suddenly realize why they make the brackets a thing. In any case, my usual situation would have been a pizza and/or some wings and few beers on Thursday and Friday, flipping between channels, catching snippets of a game here, listening to an announcer's thirty second history lesson of player 143, watching the drama unfold. Good game? I'm locked in. Game getting tight? I'm there. Upset alert? Changing channels now. This year? I think I watched Maine Cabin Masters. Due to some flooding and rot they put in new floors for this family retreat on one of the lakes, and tried to save the cabinets but eventually had to replace them. No, I'm not getting old. Maybe. But I wasn't watching basketball.

And I like sports. You know this. Maybe it's because I'm not as active as I could be I'm not into as much lately. Or maybe it's because I'm not into them I'm not active? In any case maybe it's because the NFL season never really ended with the Lamar Jackson shenanigans sucking up all the sports news oxygen in the room. Or that college basketball hadn't ever really been my thing. I like the pros, play the full 48 min games in whole seasons for 2k, can actually watch soccer and enjoy it, and on more than a few occasions stumbled across a sport, learned the basic rules and caught up in the drama in a matter of thirty minutes. And I'm supposed to be more social this year. So why did I miss this year's Madness? Dunno.

Barkeep. A gin and tonic. No, I have no idea why. No, I don't actually want one either. Just some juice.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

It should have never gotten to where it feels familiar...

This is a political post.  

The usual Mass Shooting cycle : Outrage - Generous use of the phrase "thoughts and prayers" followed by indicating it's far too soon to discuss anything other than grieving - denial and deflection - next major news event....

And this week's major news event was a doozy.

It used to be relatively easy to do political commentary. Well, easier than it is now. The cycle for issues that need to be addressed has reduced from weeks to days, sometimes hours. There used to be time to research a bit and craft a cogent, intelligent comment that maybe someone would read and gain a bit of new perspective. But then when I started this, and even as recently as a few years ago, things seemed much slower. I'm not naive, this stuff as always happening somewhere, it's just now with new media instead of just happening we get to hear about it. I almost miss the days of three channels and PBS. 

Step 3: Denial

The shooting, as all events of this nature are, was tragic. And almost immediately that now familiar cycle started. Video I shouldn't have watched, images of distraught mother, distraught children, etc. But it's not quite the same as before, as local conservative politicians hot to serve their base couldn't get a handle on DENIAL this time through. I wasn't sure if it was an actual total lack of empathy or just a failure to understand how media works, but they started saying the quiet parts out loud. If I was even a amateur political hack the focus of all my ad campaigns would the use of the phrase "We're not going to fix it" to batter all conservatives and their issues, from inflation to education, banking to crime. I'm just saying, they're serving up softballs here.

Then we stalled again at DEFLECTION, when the conservative media discovered that the shooter identified as trans. The outpouring of madness that ensued was as though a spigot of hate had been thrown wide open and then the handle broken off. Suddenly the tragedy was transformed into "an attack on Christianity" and proof that right wing efforts at the state level to end trans as a concept were just plain valid. Incorrect memes appeared and every mass shooter ever was apparently trans so now something needed to be done. Not ban guns - or even assault rifles - but something else. I had to stop reading when I saw someone suggest putting trans people in "camps" on one social media site. Camps? And we're arguing that kids need a sanitized version of history? Because that is a suggestion that should have set off alarms upon conception, much less been shared. I am sickened and horrified of what we are becoming.

Then, a moment we never thought would happen came to pass...Cheato got indicted. 

From the Washington Post

I'll be honest, I was in the I won't believe it until I see him an slightly more orange jumpsuit crowd, but this is farther than we've ever gotten before. Bragg ain't playin' with him, even tricked him into praising the Grand Jury when he thought Bragg was going to send them on vacay for a month. Owch.

But Cheato is another story. Our focus should be on the shooting, the new seemingly never ending violence and what we can do now to turn the tide. I understand protesters disrupted the Tennessee legislature today - not stormed as was reported. There was a lot of singing. I hope it soothed an aching soul or two.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Blows off the dust....

Ramblings Post #410
Wallet. Keys. Cellphone. Mask. Ready. 

I'm back.

Although looking at the count of visitors to this blog, I'm really just reminding myself that I'm still here.

Shouts into the vast digital darkness.

*Digital crickets.*

But then that was really what this was when I started. Why I decided to do this in a forum where someone might find it instead of just on my computer will probably need to be looked into, but that's a whole other thing I'll need to explore later. As it is I've been meandering lately, running through the daily grind of just getting to the next day with the added difficulty of having to commute a few days week. I need to read more, having been derailed parsing through a book about nothing, not reading the other books I've bought due to that ennui and procrastinating trying to find the voice for the next chapters of the rewrite of a first draft. I'm trying to put some art on my walls, assemble a closet system and get the stuff on the back of my chairs onto hangers, find my diet (lost it on the candy aisle), start to exercise again and trying to stop finding new internet rabbit holes to fall down. I've been just being, which I wasn't enough and kept doing it anyway. So, now my existential question is what am I doing about it.

Writing this is a start.

Writing this pushes me to write more, to think more, to breathe more, to get more out, to do things because....I'm not even sure how that all works really. But writing makes something click once I start getting into it. Not that I haven't been creating. But it's a half an idea here, or an impulse not explored there. I've been avoiding throwing myself into whatever "it" is, so what is coming out is much too sporadic than makes for quality content.

I am an artist....not creating art.

Barkeep, let me have a ....what do you mean who am I? You KNOW ME!

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

It's just a game

Ramblings Post #409
Now, let's be clear, and so my point doesn't get misinterpreted, the Bills-Bengals game point didn't need to start again. That it can't be made up shouldn't even have been an issue. They can just mark it down as a tie and keep it moving for all I care. The injury was devastating, the aftermath traumatizing, and if the players had just walked out of the stadium to go wait at the hospital instead of lining up I wouldn't have blamed a soul. It is just a damn game. That is a man's life.

I'm surprised that the NFL didn't have a protocol for this. It's a game where grown men are paid vast sums of money to run at each other at top speed and make contact. Hard contact. Repeatedly. They should have seen this as a possibility, even if the chances are one in a billion. And despite the obvious trauma stemming from the situation, they really seemed poised to throw the usual "Okay folks, shows over, nothing to see here" process that normally follows an injury. And if they had gone ahead with that five minutes to get your head together plan, I'm not sure what would have happened. Hamlin didn't have an ordinary injury.

That's a just weird thing to write. "Ordinary Injury." Sigh.

We've see injuries in the sport before. Twisted ankles and knees, head shots that left players twitching. But in those cases as the player is carted off he's sitting up, sometimes angry at his body for failing him, other times hiding his face to mask the terrible agony he's going through. Even players in the neck brace give the stadium a thumbs up as they're loaded into the ambulance. And we know they'll be okay. Maybe they won't be playing anymore, but they'll be someplace - coaching, in the booth, on a Sunday analysis show or selling used cars. They'll be somewhere. But this was not that. To see the sheer terror on his teammates faces told you that. That the term CPR was used. He had to be revived on the field, implying that at some point on the field...well, you know.

In high school, one of my teammates broke his neck during a game. He wore that Halo neck-brace for the next year I think. It did not look comfortable. Because we were young and naive we later joked that when he went down his mother had high hurdled the fence getting to the field she was so scared for her son. And after he'd been worked on, stabilized, loaded into the ambulance and carted off, without a second thought we lined up and went back at like we were invincible, when the truth was it could have been anyone of us.

"There but for the Grace of God, go I." Because on every play when I suited up, it could have been me. Grown men running at each other at top speed to intentionally make contact. Violent contact. Nature of the beast. Despite the rule changes and advances in all the padding, helmets and other safety equipment improvements of the last 50 years injuries are still expected, which is why you have the training staff there, the medics, and at that level even spotters to make sure no one is trying to walk something serious off. But not this. We expect a stinger. A sprain. A hyper-extension. But not this. This is from the football before modern football. We'd left this behind. Or so we'd thought.

I am hoping for Demar's recovery. That he rises in a week or so and finds his charity funded through 2040 with even more money to hand out scholarships. I hope he thinks about it long and hard should he decide to put the helmet on again. I hope is family is overjoyed to have him back. I hope for him many blessings going forward no matter what path he chooses.

This was just a game. That is a man's life.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

What I Learned in 20....No, I'm not gonna say it.

So, what as the passing of another year into the books taught me? What lesson have I taken to heart and tried incorporate into the "new me," who is now the "old me" since twelve months have passed. What secrets have I gleaned from my trials and tribulations that I might share so that those who would walk behind me might find the path easier?

Let me get back to you on that.

I spent the last week or so trying to find the lessons. I thought about during the drive down to see the parents, while I slept on that single bed with the brand new mattress in the guest room at my parent's house, during the long drive home. And all this week while I kinda tried to keep my mind on my work tasks at the new chicken plucking factory. And since my plucking is now "hybrid" and has quite a bit of transport, I thought about it during those drives home. I bubbled and burbled a bit. The always consistent Life goes on. The tried and true Love endures. Even the paradoxical Sometimes getting what you want isn't the best thing, that last one in light of my re-submergence into Atlanta traffic. But nothing clicked. 

I've spent another year just mulling things over. I've planned and schemed a lot, and put in place a lot of things to get me to where I want to go. But I'm still in a mire of my own creation - replaying conversations and reexamining my actions instead of moving forward. It partly irritating because I know I can do better....but have apparently chosen this as the better option.

Some of this is still Covid related. Because unlike a lot of folks I see in social media, I'm still masking when I go out in most situations. I still limit my trips out to just the basics, despite seeing stadiums filled to capacity, night clubs jumping and concerts in full rock. But then I haven't had covid yet either, so there is that as a plus. But this limited interaction also limits that thing I realized last year that I actually need - the person in personal contact. I've done one social event this year and honestly...I miss it. But I'm also of the opinion that with my luck even vaxxed and boosted I'll end up flat on my back if I get it adding up my sins and looking for heavenly frequent prayer miles. 

This past year has been a...year. A number of things happened that I wish I had been a larger part of and the reason I wasn't because my own actions. I've said before and will continue to say that I'm responsible for 95% of things that happen to me through my own actions. I guess that's also true for my failings as well. And unfortunately for me, as I explained earlier, I'm probably going to dwell on that for far too long as well. Sigh.

So, words of wisdom.... eh? I'm not sure I'm as qualified to be handing them out as I like to believe I am. But here goes....

Go forth and live, taking time to balance between taking in the full of the now while keeping an eye on the future. Despite our best efforts and most passionate wishes, the world will not wait for us. Be kind but firm, and warm but cautious and open yourself up to the possibilities. Feast or famine, failure or triumph, just remember that you cannot stay here because here will not be here for long, so make a choice and go. And at the very least it will have been something you chose, not just let happen. 

To next year.